Mike Fietz



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Movin’ on up: Helping pets adjust to a new home

There are few experiences in life that elicit both excitement and distress like moving into a new home, so just imagine how it must feel for our four-legged friends. After years of a comfy, stable routine, the entire world is instantaneously upended for no apparent reason at all. Nothing is where it used to be. […]

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Can I see your ID? How a simple tag can save your pet’s life

Having a pet go missing is anguishing. Posters go up and APBs are phoned in to local shelters and veterinary clinics, but so many cases go unresolved. Proper identification is the easiest way to make sure that your wayward pet comes back home. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones, and that’s the case […]

Watching a pet age both physically and mentally is never easy, but local veterinarian Mike Fietz advises owners to be proactive.  File photo

Fading memories: Coping with senility in aging pets

Pets, just like their human caretakers, face a great variety of health problems as they age. The physical sorts, while awful in their own right, seem easier for us to grasp. There is a sad kind of sense to it. The aches and pains, blindness and deafness, organ dysfunction—we recognize these as the unavoidable price […]

Local veterinarian Mike Fietz warns against giving puppies and kittens as surprise gifts during the holidays. File photo

Holiday faux paws: Why you should think twice before giving pets as gifts

The holidays are coming, as evidenced by the lights, wreaths, and snowflakes that started overwhelming storefronts since about seven seconds after you removed your Halloween costume. And for veterinarians, that means it’s almost time to see dozens of new furballs. Puppies and kittens are common gifts, and ’tis the season for giving. In most cases, […]

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You shall not pass: When pets eat the inedible

It must be weird to live in a world where literally every single thing might be food, but I’m pretty sure that’s the one that many animals inhabit. There seems to be no limit to what our pets are willing to swallow, nor does there seem to be much capacity to learn from past mistakes. […]

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Take the lead: Why leashes aren’t optional

“He’s friendly!” she shouted as her dog came hurtling toward mine at ludicrous speed on the Rivanna Trail. Retrievers aren’t known for their mean streaks, so it’s not to say I doubted her, but I firmed up my grip on the leash just in case. As it turns out, the encounter was resolved amicably with […]

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Say my name: When kids get to dub the family pet

This was his first visit after being adopted from the SPCA over the weekend. He was a bit pudgy at 40 pounds—a middle-aged Beagle mix with a lazy demeanor and drooping ears. He was adorable, but with his squat legs and lumbering gait, I could never describe him as dynamic. I glanced at his chart, […]

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Sowing trouble: When pets and plants collide

With an overdue spring finally coming into its own, it’s time for many of us to start spending some time in the garden. Whether you’re planting vegetables for the table or decorative plants to brighten up the yard, you can be pretty sure that your pets are going to be keen on inspecting the greenery. […]

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Heat of the moment: Keeping pets cool in hot weather

Charlottesville has no shortage of things to do outdoors in the summer, and we’re lucky to live somewhere that pets are often just as welcome as people. From dog-friendly parks and hiking trails to Downtown restaurants that happily serve bowls of water to their canine dinner guests, there are worse places to have four legs. […]

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The diagnosis that wasn’t: Understanding kennel cough

I’ve completely lost track of how many coughing dogs I’ve seen in the last month or two. They come in honking like geese and hacking up slime. Yup, there’s a nasty case of kennel cough touring Charlottesville, and it seems nobody is safe (well… nobody who happens to be a dog). But wasn’t your dog […]

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Enough is enough: The importance of spaying and neutering

“So, is it really necessary to… you know?” asks the anxious new puppy owner as he unwittingly extends two fingers of his free hand into the form of scissors. The short answer? Yes. Yes, it really is. And for so many reasons. Here’s the sad truth: There are literally millions of homeless dogs and cats […]

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When less is more: Getting overweight pets down to size

As we roll toward the end of January, I gather a lot of us have New Year’s resolutions that are already unraveling and set to expire by Groundhog Day. C’est la vie—in 11 short months, you can give it another shot. In the meantime, maybe it’s time to provide some surrogate willpower to those who […]

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Ach-tongue, baby: What foods aren’t safe for pets?

One of the joys of having pets is sharing. We share our homes, our families—our entire lives—with them. And sometimes that means we share our food. Truth is, most “people food” is absolutely fine for animals (at least in moderation). But some things we eat just don’t sit well in fuzzier stomachs, and are best […]

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Teaching pets the difference between your home and a toilet

Watching a happy puppy or kitten bounce around the living room, it’s hard to imagine anything that isn’t perfectly adorable about your new friend. Of course, the first time you find a pile of poop under the coffee table, you might adjust your assessment. And then you step barefoot in a warm puddle on your […]